tv PBS News Hour PBS August 24, 2012 12:00am-1:00am PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: at least 100 people died in new fighting in syria today, as explosions rocked the capital, damascus, and heavy shelling pummeled the commercial center of aleppo. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, margaret warner gets a first hand account of the bloody war from a reporter embedded with three different groups of rebels. >> brown: then, we turn to the presidential race and break down the differences on a key campaign issue: medicare. >> woodruff: special correspondent kira kay reports on the legal moves to unseal secret interviews with former combatants in northern ireland. >> to me it's important that i know what's on the tape and maybe there will be a court case
and someone will pay for what they did to my mother. >> brown: tonight's edition of the "daily download" looks at high tech tools front and center at the political conventions in tampa and charlotte. >> woodruff: we talk to columnist jay cost about the evolution of the democratic party laid out in his new book "spoiled rotten." >> the democratic party around the 1930s recognized the potential of using big government winning over classes of citizens-- clients as i call them-- and transform them into loyal voters. >> brown: and from the west african nation of mali, lindsey hilsum has a story of music, architecture and art, all threatened by the country's new islamic rulers. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪
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>> brown: "it was just another regular day in damascus." the words of a resident of the syrian capital where on this day, shelling and clashes were intense. government forces backed by tanks and helicopters attacked an area just outside the city and the last of the united nations military observers left, unable to stem the violence. thick, black smoke billowed above the daraya suburb of damascus today, as bashar al- assad's military pounded parts of the capital. elements loyal to assad were said to be going house to house in search of regime opponents. by late morning today, an opposition group said more than 70 people had been killed there, a claim impossible to verify. the offensive is part of a renewed government campaign that began yesterday against neighborhoods where the rebellion has proven resilient, in and around damascus. among those caught in the crossfire-- five children and
their mother, reportedly killed by government shelling-- their bodies wrapped and laid in repose, beneath a minaret in daraya. according to independent estimates, 20,000 people have died since the syrian uprising began 18 months ago. today, the country's deputy foreign minister blamed regional actors and the west for what has become civil war. >> the dangerous support by turkey of the terrorist gangs, of providing these with sophisticated weapons and of giving each terrorist in the world including al-qaida free access to turkey to come to syria. >> reporter: amateur video from the anti-assad free syrian army purported to show an ambush of a government checkpoint near hama, to the north of damascus. and on the country's eastern border with iraq, pitched fighting was reported at the border crossing of al-bukamal.
at the same time, in aleppo fighting continued and amnesty international reported on its own ten-day fact-finding mission to syria's largest city. it said artillery and mortar fire, coupled with government airstrikes, are killing mostly civilians there, including large numbers of women and children. >> as soon as the syrian army a team from the "newshour's" pbs partner, frontline was in syria recently, in idlib province and the town of saraqib; the city of azzaz and, for six days, in aleppo. two of its journalists spent time with different elements of the free syrian army groups for nearly two weeks. >> we're crossing the front lines in the city of aleppo and >> reporter: ghaith abdul-ahad is a correspondent for the british newspaper "the guardian", and is reporting for frontline: >> one of the libyan fighters came to me and told me, they don't know how to fight. >> reporter: abdul-ahad and producer jamie doran left syria yesterday. margaret warner spoke with abdul-ahad from istanbul earlier this evening.
>> it was the heaviest fighting i've seen since iraq, since fallujah, new jersey, battles in iraq. serious, heavy urban warfare, people who fighting block to block, street to street. it was, really, really intense fighting. >> warner: so what kind of weaponry do the rebels have? >> the rebels, they only have kalashnikovs, a.k.-47s and r.p.g.s. they use these weapons to fight airplanes, jet fighters, migs. so there is no balance in terms
of weapons. yet at the same time the syrian army, the government army that is i think totally demoralized, i was in situations where they could have totally crushed the rebels yet they were too scared to push down a street. >> warner: describe... so what's the dynamic like? do they fight for particular blocks? do they engage in the direct combat? >> after the initial push in aleppo when the rebels took over neighborhoods the government started pushing them back. so the government's strategy is shelling bombing by jet aircrafts and pushing in tanks. the rebels would retreat when they start fighting street to
street, building to building, digging holes from one apartment block to the other and they fight over streets to take over one street in aleppo, it's one day, two days, the syrian government authority is sometimes only 15 meters around the a tank. that's their that's the limit of their control over the city. they don't lack weapon bus they lack leadership and coordination. >> warner: let me just can ask you this: there's been a lot of concern ant al qaeda-linked foreign fighters coming in. >> i did see chechens, saudi, turks, i did see many, many foreign fighters. they constitute something
between 5% to 10% of the main fighting force of the syrian rebels they coordinate with the free syrian army. there is the huge split between the to two unit bus they exist underground. >> warner: did you get a chance to get this vision of syria? what fighting? what they think the future holds? >> he took the free syrian army to the rebels. they tell us what want to get rid of bashar al-assad, we'll have a democracy, people will vote, it will be a sort of secular democracy. if you took the jihadis to the fighters, they used the same tactic they used in iraq. they talk about an islamic state they talk about jihad, they talk about... they link syria to iraq to other places.
so it depends who you're talking to. >> warner: what about ordinary civilians? did you get any sense of how they're coping with this? >> pretty horrible for local civilians. at the front lines you see these skirmishes taking place, you see snipers shooting in the middle of the street and in the middle of that street you see a civilian carrying two plastic bags walking, trying to retrieve their... whatever is left in their houses. >> warner: did you feel in danger? were you in danger? >> i mean, of course, it is a front line situation it was pretty intense, you meet people in the morning, you see them over breakfast and at the end of the day they're dead. i spent the night with a command we had dinner one night, the next day we had tea and at the end of that day he was dead.
it was very, very intense. as i said, i haven't seen such an intense fighting sinces the days of iraq. you know, you're standing in there in the streets corner and a jet fighter would pass over you and drop the bomb 50, 100 meters away so it was very, very difficult situation. >> warner: ghaith abdul-ahad, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: "the battle for syria" airs tuesday, september 18th on frontline on most pbs stations. still to come on the "newshour": how the candidates differ on medicare; secret interviews with former fighters in northern ireland; the "daily download" goes to the conventions; one author's take on the evolution of the democratic party and the destruction of mali's treasures. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: republican presidential candidate mitt romney unveiled his energy plan today at a campaign stop in new mexico. it sets a national goal to achieve energy independence by 2020.
one of the major components is to open more areas offshore to oil and gas drilling, including off virginia and north carolina, two election swing states where drilling currently is banned. romney said his energy proposals will spur job growth. >> three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet. that's oil and gas and coal. we're going to make it happen and we're going to create those jobs. let me tell you what else it does. it adds $500 billion to the size of our economy. that's more good wages. that's an opportunity for more americans to have a bright and prosperous future. >> holman: romney's proposals make little mention of wind, solar and other renewable resources backed by president obama. in washington, white house spokesman jay carney said the president believes energy policy should embrace many energy sources. >> the republican approach is essentially one that is written by or dictated by big oil and it
focuses almost entirely on oil and fossil fuels. this president believes we need to embrace all forms of domestic energy production, including oil, including natural gas, including nuclear energy which as you know this administration has invested in for the first time in 30 years. >> holman: president obama spent part of the day today in what his campaign called political meetings at democratic national committee headquarters in washington. tropical storm isaac churned westward in the caribbean today, with sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. the storm unleashed rain and winds on puerto rico and the virgin islands today. the latest predictions show isaac could strengthen to a hurricane before landing on the dominican republic and haiti tomorrow, and moving up the gulf coast of florida monday. that's when more than 70,000 are expected in tampa for day one of the republican national convention.
a northern california wildfire expanded its southern front today, and threatened at least 900 more homes. the ponderosa fire-- believed ignited by lightning on saturday-- has grown to 44 square miles and burned 64 homes. firefighters have it about half contained and say it may be controlled early next week. another fire burning east of seattle, washington was nearly contained. it destroyed more than 50 homes since it started a week ago. on wall street today, u.s. stocks sagged from the weak global economy and concern european leaders aren't doing enough to solve their debt crisis. the dow jones industrial average lost 115 points to close at 13,057. the nasdaq fell 20 points to close at 3,053. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: and we turn to the battle for the presidency and the latest in our continuing coverage of the issues. tonight, medicare. ever since mitt romney selected paul ryan as his running mate two weeks ago, medicare has
become a subject of hot debate on the campaign trail. to a large extent that's because ryan-- as chairman of the house budget committee-- has proposed a big change to medicare over time. he wants it to eventually move to a system where some beneficiaries would receive fixed payments to buy an insurance plan. romney has not embraced the full ryan plan but has signed onto that concept. >> when there are big issues that come up, like how do we save medicare, instead of doing this man said, "yeah, we'll get it back." this man said i'm going to find democrats to work with, found a democrat to co-lead a piece of legislation to make sure that we can save medicare. >> woodruff: new polling out today shows romney's support for ryan's idea could be giving president obama an edge in some key swing states. the quinnipiac university, the "new york times," and cbs news found in a joint poll that more voters in florida, ohio, and wisconsin trust the president to handle medicare.
less than a third support the plan backed by romney and ryan even though romney asserts he has no plans to change the medicare program for current seniors. right now, the federal government is required to help pay for each medical service used by medicare enrollees with no limits. but those costs are rising and the medicare trust fund will be insolvent in 2024. as house budget chair, ryan passed a plan that would increase the eligibility age gradually from 65 to 67 by 2034 and cap spending increases for medicare at just above the growth rate of the economy. the biggest change: when future beneficiaries-- those currently under 55-- become eligible for medicare, they will receive a set annual amount of money from the government to purchase private insurance or join the traditional government plan. vice president biden lambasted
those ideas. and president obama called the plan an end to medicare as we know it, as he told voters in iowa last week. >> they want to turn medicare into a voucher program. that means seniors would no longer have the guarantee of medicare; they'd get a voucher to buy private insurance. and because the voucher wouldn't keep up with costs, the plan authored by governor romney's running mate, congressman ryan, would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year. >> woodruff: the president would not change traditional medicare service. but his health care reform law includes more than $700 billion in payment cuts over 10 years to insurers, hospitals and other providers. ryan's congressional proposal the quinnipiac-"new york times"- cbs poll found medicare now ranks as the third most important issue in florida, ohio, and wisconsin right behind the economy and health care. a closer look now at what both candidates are proposing and how their plans would impact medicare.
joe antos is a health policy analyst with the american enterprise institute. and judy feder is a professor of public policy at georgetown university and a fellow at the urban institute. we thank you both for being with us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: joseph antos, i'm going to start with you and i want to ask both of you this question to set the table. how much trouble is the medicare trust fund in and why is it? >> well, it's in tremendous trouble. the trustees tell us that the main trust fund will run short of money by 2024. but that really doesn't tell you anything. the fact is that the medicare program has been spending much more rapidly than any other major part of the budget. in fact, it's the fastest growing part of the budget other than interest on the debt. ruff. >> woodruff: how would you describe how much trouble it's in. >> i think's a concern that the payroll taxes people pay to
support medicare become inadequate to support it fully in the future and that's because health care costs are growing. medicare costs, like overall health care costs, is growing. so we need action to slow the growth of medicare costs as well as the nation's health costs and we are taking those actions. >> woodruff: so let's look at these two proposals as they are out there and start with what governor romney, joseph antos, and congressman ryan are trying to... what in a nutshell would they do with medicare? >> the whole idea is to change the way the health sector looks at medicare. right now under the current medicare program, traditional medicare, health care providers know if they do more work they'll get paid more. and that's without regard to whether the additional services are worth it for the patient. what the romney/ryan plan does is it says that seniors get a fixed amount of money, more if they're low income, moreen if f
they need more help. but they get a fixed amount of money they can select a plan they want. it could be traditional medicare it could be a private plan. and what that does to the health sector is it sends the message that if you want to do well you have to do a better job providing the right services at the right time. >> woodruff: and under the ryan plan, it would happen in ten years, so judy feder, when you hear that, many people listen and say that sounds like a logical thing, a choice for seniors. >> well, let's start with what where joe talked about fixing the dollars. right now under medicare you're guaranteed a set of benefits and you get those benefits. yes what the romney/ryan plan would do is instead of guaranteeing benefits would, as joe said, guarantee dollars and then you would go shopping for a health plan in order to, if they want to get savings out of those dollars, they are constraining the dollars with which people have to shop and what the evidence tells us from congressional budget office and
others is that those vouchers become inadequate to buy the medicare benefit package. so then there is a shift of cost to seniors. >> woodruff: become inadequate why? >> because health care costs is not likely to grow at the rate of growth in premium costs. that's why the congressional budget office found that in the future the seniors would pay an additional $6,000 out of pocket for the premium. >> woodruff: joe antos, you're shaking your head. >> first of all, that $6,000 figure doesn't refer to ryan's current plan. second it makes unreasonable assumption. the fact is that under obama's plan-- which is passed into law-- $700 billion would be taken out of the medicare program, now, you could say well it's just reducing payments to hospitals and if i sigss. sure it is. but if you think you can take that money out without turning medicare into a program that doesn't provide services you're
wrong. >> woodruff: and i do want to ask you about the obama proposal which ryan accepts those cuts but just quickly on this point about if you go to a voucher system or whatever terminology you use there will be less funds because the cost of medical claire go up. >> to the question is will the health sector respond to the clear incentive? right now they're responding to clear incentive do more; get paid more. so if they actually face some limitation on federal subsidies l they turn around and find efficiencys? that's the question. if they don't, we're sunk. but we're sunk either way. >> woodruff: you'd be counting on that as a more logical... >> so is everybody else on both sides. >> well, what the romney/ryan plan does is give people, as we said, a fixed amount to shop with and then hope that cost containment will become
efficient. but it puts the risk on the beneficiary, on the senior. joe has talked about health care payment being out of whack, that we pay for more and more services, ever more costly services, we need to address that. and the obama plan does address that but it does so in a way that holds providers accountable and uses the medicare program to keep costs under control. it does not shift the responsibility to the shopping seniors. >> woodruff: you mentioned that $716 billion, joe antos. >> let me talk a little about that. >> woodruff: let me come back to mr. antos a minute. because you were saying those cuts mainly to providers, what's the problem with that? trying to find economies... >> frankly, the medicare program should be fixed. i think we agree with that. the question is how. what the actuaries tell us is that if those cuts go through and medicare will be paying at
the rate of the medicaid program, the medicaid program is renowned for lack of access to care. >> woodruff: these are for low income individuals, those with disabilities. >> right. not only does the ryan plan but the obama plan really does depend on transformation in the way health care is delivered. >> woodruff: what about his point about the obama plan? >> let's talk about the $700 plus million that ryan did take out of his plan as well. those are reductions in the rate of growth, in payments to providers and to the private health insurance plans that some beneficiaries by to supplement medicare. but that growth, if you remember those came from and they've got part of the affordable care act, they came in agreements with the hospital industry who agreed that they could accept the cuts of that nature. and evidence tells us that where there is pressure to reduce costs in terms of what's paid to the hospital not what's given to people to shop that there are
efficiencies that can be taken. and with those cuts what is not acknowledged in this debate is medicare as a result of the affordable care act is already growing at an extraordinarily slow or beneficiary rate. >> woodruff: so what about this idea that this money would come from hospitals? they've agreed from-to-do it. they're going to work on finding sensible cuts. >> well, apparently they're all charitable organizations. in reality that was the political decision that you would make when you think something's going to happen anyway and that's what they thought and that's what happened. weed that health reform law passed. but that doesn't mean they're not going to come back-- as they do year after year after year-- saying we need some relief. >> woodruff: meaning hospitals and providers. >> hospitals and if i sigss will be back to congress and congress is likely to knuckle under. >> just quickly, for patients they will be left paying what?
>> well, the difference between the obama plan and the romney plan is that because medicare is a large purchaser it can set rates that providers will accept because they need the business. we are, as older people, a big part of their business. so the pressure is put on the providers and through innovations changes in the way they're paid. >> woodruff: very big subject. we've taken a crack at it tonight. i know it's something we'll come back to again and again. joe antos, judy feder thank you both. >> thank you, judy. >> brown: next, the ghosts of the past in northern ireland, coming to life in a new legal battle playing out on both sides of the atlantic. "newshour" special correspondent kira kay has the story. >> reporter: it has been 14 years since peace came to
northern ireland, with the so- called good friday agreement that ended the three decades of sectarian conflict here known as the troubles. but vivid memories remain of the violence between nationalist militants like the ira and the british army and loyalist paramilitaries, that killed more than 3,000 people. in 2001, a group of academics set out to collect the oral history of northern ireland's combatants, they say to record the truth, before it was too late. >> i think we have to understand why people become involved in conflict, why people who would lead normal peaceful lives are drawn into the most violent of conflicts. once these people had died, those voices would be lost forever. >> reporter: one-time ira member anthony mcintyre served 17 years in prison for murder of a loyalist foe. after his release, he earned his phd. he was hired by irish journalist ed moloney to help create what they called the belfast project, an audio archive of around 40 interviews with former fighters.
william plum smith, a former loyalist combatant, was a participant. >> we had a story that hadn't been told, that needed to be told, so that people in the future from different countries involved in conflict could maybe look at our situation and benefit from it educationally. >> reporter: an ocean away, boston college was eager to include the belfast project in its renowned collection of irish research. >> the enterprise of oral history has great importance to the academic world to helping to solve sectarian strife. >> reporter: jack dunn is boston college's spokesman. >> being the repository of the belfast project, of these tapes regarding the troubles seemed like a logical thing for a university of our caliber to do. >> this is just a pure, simple one-page agreement that we signed. >> reporter: interviewees like william smith were promised that their testimony would remain confidential until their deaths. and that's how it went for years, the tapes hidden away under lock and key on boston colleges campus. but in 2010, that all changed,
after infamous i.r.a. commander brendan hughes died and his interviews were released. >> a lot of the stuff that i am saying here, i'm saying it in trust. because i have a trust in you. i have never, ever, ever admitted to being a member of the i.r.a. never. i've just done it here. >> reporter: and then last summer, a bombshell: the u.s. department of justice, acting on behalf of united kingdom law enforcement, subpoenaed the tapes of several interview subjects who were still alive. >> what led to the subpoenas was the fact that one of the participants, dolours price, had given an interview with irish media, in which she had referenced the tapes and implicated herself in the murder and abduction of jean mcconville. >> it never goes away. you wake up with it in morning and it's there at night when you go to bed. it just never leaves you. even after 40 years it's still hard. >> reporter: helen mckendry was 15 years old in 1972, when her mother, jean mcconville, was
branded an informant by the i.r.a. >> the i.r.a. came and kicked the door in. the kids were screaming but they didn't pay attention to anybody, just dragged my mother out of the house and that was the last she was ever seen of. >> reporter: mcconville disappeared for three decades, until her body was found on a beach in 2003. word that the boston college archives might hold answers spurred authorities to reinvigorate the case and raised the hopes of helen and her husband, seamus. >> to me it's important that i know what's on the tape and also maybe, you know, there will be a court case. and someone will pay for what they did to my mother. >> and i would implore them to release the tapes. that's not just compassion we are looking for, it's reality, you know. this might give my wife the peace she deserves. >> reporter: but researcher anthony mcintyre says there are greater considerations. >> regardless of what individual victims may want, and what they want is fully understandable,
the researcher must at all times seek to protect their sources. >> reporter: the justice department argues it is compelled to demand the interviews on behalf of the u.k. under something called the mutual legal assistance treaty that promises cooperation on criminal investigations. jonathan albano is a first amendment lawyer working pro- bono for the american civil liberties union. >> there are significant first amendment issues raised when the government, in this case a foreign government, is seeking a judicial order requiring academics or journalists to turn over confidential materials. >> reporter: albano says the treaties the u.s. signs with its allies do not automatically override the protections given to journalists by the supreme court. >> i'm not saying so therefore all subpoenas are off limits. what we are saying is that this is an important enough area where people have the right to be heard and you really do have to carefully engage in an analysis of is there a real
need, what will be the potential harm, and is it worth imposing these kinds of burdens on protected first amendment communications. >> reporter: back in northern ireland, there are concerns the tapes release will hinder, not help, the search for truth. >> if the daughter of this particular victim gets answers through the boston college tapes, then that is going to close down the very real potential for the other victims getting answers. because people will not come forward as part of a truth recovery process if the information that they divulge is to be used against them in court. >> reporter: former militant william smith says its already happening on the streets of belfast, where he works with ex- combatants. and so he wants his tapes back. >> the damage that it's doing to truth recovery, or conflict transformation, is tremendous. people will not talk now. >> reporter: anthony mcintyre suspects there is political motivation behind the british
states demand for the archive. gerry adams, the well-known irish nationalist politician, was implicated in both the brendan hughes tapes and the dolours price interview. but he has repeatedly denied he was an i.r.a. member or had anything to do with jean mcconville's murder. mcintryre says he's now been labeled an informant. his wife, carrie twomey, is american. her husband can't travel to the u.s. because of his murder conviction, so she is lobbying on his behalf. >> i am an american citizen and my children are american citizens. and this is the actions of my government placing our lives in danger. and that is one of the messages that i took to washington d.c. when i met with the senatorial offices and members of congress. >> reporter: 20 members of congress have expressed their worries over the subpoenas, including senator john kerry, who urged the state department to work with the british to revoke their request, writing he was concerned about its impact on the northern ireland peace process.
it's a concern shared by northern ireland's deputy first minister, martin mcguinness. >> anybody reading the news reports from the united states here will be very concerned about how that situation is being used by elements who are not favorably disposed to the peace process, in order to use that situation to destabilize the progress that we have made. >> reporter: but the legal battle is working its way through the american court system. boston college sued to quash the subpoenas but did agree to allow a judge to read transcripts of the interviews despite the researchers strong objections. and in december, that judge found that the u.k.'s request concerned serious allegations of murder that weighed strongly in favor of disclosure of the confidential information. boston college is now appealing that decision. >> it is a struggle between obligations. we have an obligation as a university to uphold the enterprise of oral history and academic research, which we
value greatly. and yet we understand the government's obligation to comply with the treaty with great britain. and i also feel an obligation for the mcconville kids who are looking for answers to their 40- year-old question regarding their mothers horrific murder. so it's very difficult. >> reporter: despite the impact this case could have on northern ireland and on american law, it remains unclear whether the information on the tapes could actually be admitted as evidence in any prosecution. but helen mckendry and her husband wait and hope they will soon have the truth, if not the justice, for what happened to her mother. >> woodruff: oral arguments in the case begin next month in the circuit court of appeals in boston. last month, kira examined the religious divide, still present in ireland 14 years after the peace agreement. you can watch that on our website. her stories are produced in partnership with the bureau for international reporting.
>> brown: the campaign moves into convention mode next week and we along with it. the internet and social media will be major players in how it all shakes out. that's the theme for our regular look at that intersecting world of digital media and politics and as always we're joined by two journalists from the daily download. lauren ashburn is the site's editor and chief, howard kurtz is the site's washington bureau chief and host of cnn's "reliable sources." welcome back. >> thank you! >> before we get to the conventions i want to talk about the political news story of the week, congressman todd atin, what he said about rape, the aftermath. a lot of it played out online. >> a lot of it was nasty, too. a lot of journalists weighed in, including sean hannity from fox news who tweeted ann coulter told me she feels todd akin is the most selfish man in politics
because despite the fact that mitt romney called for him to pull out of the race and many others did, he won't. >> abc's jake tapper said "who will be less welcome at the republican convention, todd i kin or hurricane isaac?" but also chatter about paul ryan mitt romney's running mate, because his position and todd akin's position on banning abortion with no exception for rape are the same. so ryan has been kind of pulled into this controversy at least online. >> brown: this is another xrapl pl of how this kind of story has a life of its own. aside from television. >> absolutely. >> brown: so to the conventions where we'll all be in tampa. these are ancient institutions in american political terms, right? but now in a new age. >> very new age. and the r.n.c., the republican national committee, sent out a press release saying it was going to be the most digital convention ever, obviously. in 2004 twitter and iphones were
in their infancy and apps were sort of just a blip. hadn't even really been developed. well.... >> brown: we've got a graphic here. >> yes, look at twitter. in 2008 on election day there were 1.8 million tweets. the daily average in 2012400 million. so the difference is night and day. >> twitter will have a team at both conventions and facebook is sending people to talk to journalists and developers so they will be a presence in tampa and charlotte. >> brown: the interesting thing here is the spontaneity and immediacy of that kind of communication contrasts with what these conventions have become in a sense. >> right. it used to be conventions made news. now i think you can make use yourself on social media. facebook is really... has their politics in government team braced to make this a vibrant experience on facebook the way
they're doing that is they have a place for everybody to upload. you can share what you're doing. they have apps and drinks events where people will be there to show you 40 to use different apps and then the r.n.c. has put together an app that has live convention coverage, maps, transportation, local news, interactive trivia games and even a scavenger hunt. >> i found that to be kind of on the dull side. it seemed like a bulletin board. you could buy t-shirt and tote bags and the only interactive thing you could do is post a picture. at the same time it seems to me that these are no longer primarily television shows. as you know, the ratings have been declining for years. so now whether people are going on facebook or twiter to the r.n.c. app or to the live streaming that both parties are going to do-- i understand pbs is going to do-- people want it when they want it and not necessarily in a television... >> well, but flesh that out a bit because it's interesting to us, of course. we're covering it for television and online with live streaming. you watch television for a long
time, covered the industry. you're saying in many ways this is no longer should be seen as a television event per say in >> the broadcast networks have abandoned the field. they've already had one roughly one hour a night on the last three nights of the republican convention. not even carrying the first t when anne romney is scheduled to speak. it's become more of a cable news event, more of a pbs event and an online event, blog event, social media event. that's another way of getting the message out but it's very different than sitting down with the walter cronkite or brinkley. >> people in their living rooms not watching television can dip in and out of the convention experience. >> and to engage with their friends. that's a point we ought to emphasize. >> there's an i'm voting app that facebook has put together so you can say i'm voting for barack obama or mitt romney and share that with your friends. >> brown: i was just thinking this is affecting so many different events.
i talked to jim lehrer about the debate he'll be a trusted part of your home remodeling team rating and the question is the role of a debate in social media. so you are saying conventions are affected. >> well those three debates and the vice presidential debate still are genuine television events because we don't know what will happen. the conventions have become so tightly corps owe grafed that 15 journalists are going down, including us, they'll be hard pressed to find news. so it makes sense people wouldn't want to perhaps share the experience with their friend. it becomes more of a social and cultural event as opposed to receiving political information. >> and it gives journalists something to the other than wait around for the evening. they can tweet "hey, i saw so and so and this is happening." and it guesses on the radar. >> and post live video and do all kinds of things that you couldn't think about four years ago. >> brown: we'll be there, see you in tampa, lauren ashburn, howard kurtz, as always, thanks.
>> woodruff: and to the third in our series of books about american politics. jay cost of "the weekly standard" explores the history of the democratic party and its evolution from the time of andrew jackson to the present. in his new book "spoiled rotten: how the politics of patronage corrupted the once noble democratic party and now threatens the american republic," cost argues democrats have lost their way, and that their push to get re- elected overshadows the party's founding principles. i sat down with him earlier this week. welcome to the newshour. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: you make no bones about it. you write you think the democratic party is badly broken not representative any longer of the united states. you say it also had a one-proud tra tradition. >> right. well the democratic party's sounding principles were republican principles with a small "r."
the idea behind it was this notion, this quintessentially american notion, that everybody was created equal regardless of their social or economic status in life and that it was up to the government to ensure people are treated equally. and the argument in my book is that was the principal on which the party was founded that principal has since been lost. >> woodruff: what happened? >> what happened is similarly in mixture of big government and political concerns. the democratic party around the 1930s recognized that t potential of using big government to win over on a permanent basis classes of citizens as clients as i call them and transform them into loyal voters. the. >> woodruff: coming out of the depression? >> depression, the new deal, franklin park zoo was a great political innovation. but those groups become part of the party and demand a stream of benefits and now as my argument
goes the party is totally dependent upon these groups sand no longer capable of governing for the country at large. >> woodruff: give us an example of that. what's an example of having made demands and the democratic party caved into those demands? >> probably the best example over time is organized labor. organized labor remains an extremely powerful faction within the democratic party. arguably more powerful than ever despite the fact that organized labor as a share of the total work force has declined from 25% in the '50s to 10% today. >> woodruff: you write about african americans, you talk about radical advocates for the poor, environmentalists, gay rights groups. so all of these groups you're saying is it that their claims were illegitimate? that they shouldn't have asked for what they asked? absolutely not. no, in fact my book and what i try to do is studiously avoid issues of right versus wrong. everybody has a legitimate claim. people are honestly articulating
and making their interest known. the problem is the way the democratic party deals with these interests once the claims a r made. what does the party do? the argument of the book is rather than trying to develop a national program it caters to individual groups. >> woodruff: how did that happen? why didn't it come up with a more national approach? >> my argument is it gets back to the urban political machines. the earliest generation of progressives, the earliest liberals in this country were very much anti-machine, woodrow wilson and franklin roosevelt was instrumental in destroying tammany hall. but what happened was they imported the tammany motto into washington, d.c. and their approach was "what do you want to vote for us? we'll deliver that to you." so what's happened over the years is that groups have made arrangements, private arrangements, with the
democratic party and the deal is we'll vote for you on election day and when you get into washington you provide with us benefits. >> woodruff: some people reading your theory would say well, how is that different from the groups behind the republican party? christian conservatives, for example, the gun rights group, the national rifle association for example. business groups. somehow that different? >> right. well, this is an endemic problem to political parties. any political organization, any political party that wants to win a majority is going to have to appeal to groups and that's just been the way things have been even since andrew jackson's day. the argument of my book, though, is democrats have added too many groups and there's difficulty striking a balance between the demands of their groups and the national interests. the republicans have their own problems for sure and you mentioned big business which historically has been a client of the republican party but in
the last 25 years we've seen big business play both sides very cleverly. so, for instance, this year the big banks are supporting mitt romney over barack obama but in 2008 they supported barack obama over john mccain. >> woodruff: and what do you say is is the demery for all of this? >> historically speaking the remedy for the democratic party was southern populists. jimmy carter and bill clinton were reformist democrats who did not come from this traditional clientalism. just the political dynamic and history of south being what it is they were immune from that. i think the best solution for the democrats is to look south. >> woodruff: for a presidential... >> for presidential leadership and political leadership. southern democrats have an intuitive understanding, i think of the needs to balance the interests of their coalitions within their broader electorate. that's why bill clinton was such
an a success during his time in washington. >> woodruff: i interviewed mickey edwards, the former republican oklahoma congressman very recently who said he thinks what needs to happen is the parties need to not have so much control over who gets to run over congressional districts and once these candidates go to washington the parties have too much say over what they do and how they vote. what about that? >> they do have a lot of say and the say often happens behind the scenes in ways that are not often commented upon. like, for instance, committee assignments and climbing up the ladder within congress itself. it's a real problem in a lot of respects. >> what's the ultimate at stake here? why is it a problem if this doesn't get fixed as you describe it? >> well, the issue in the book is not liberalism versus conservatism. the issue is in the book is republicanism request w a small "r." the book assumes the legitimacy and moral satisfaction of the
liberal program. the question is liberalism on whose behalf? and the argument behind the book is that the democratic party should try to pursue liberalism for the entire country rather than just the collection of interest groups that now embody it. >> woodruff: do you think that's possible? doable? >> i think it is. i think bill clinton definitely signaled it was possible. >> woodruff: all right, we'll leave it there. jay cost, the book is "spoiled rotten: how the politics of patronage corrupt it had once noble democratic party and threatens the american republic." thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> brown: and we close with another story from the west african nation of mali. earlier this week, lindsey hilsum of "independent television news" reported on the rise of islamic militants and the exodus of refugees. tonight, she explores the impact of the conflict on the country's cultural heritage.
>> reporter: mali-- one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. a land of music, mud mosques, ancient islamic manuscripts, animists-- all now under threat. about 50 miles from the capital, bamako, i meet the hunters. they brandish their 19th century flintlock rifles, and their talismans. the islamists who now control northern mali hate all this, but the hunters culture goes back a thousand years and they like to show it off. these men see themselves as muslims, but they mix their islam with animism, traditional culture, and they know that if the islamists came down from the north to here then they'd be the
first target. but they're an essential part of malian culture. they show me how they aim their rifles-- no shooting, though, because it's ramadan and they say, they can always send magic to destroy the islamists. >> ( translated ): we're scared of the new islamic wave. when they see us wearing hunters clothes, they won't regard us as muslims. they'll automatically think were infidels who cannot know allah. but our external appearance is different from what we feel inside. these foreigners are showing us a kind of islam which has never been prophet mohammed's message, taking knives and killing others. >> allahu akbar! >> reporter: the people of timbuktu have already seen what the islamists can do. last month, al qaeda's local
allies set upon the city's famous sufi landmarks. the guardian of the mausoleum of alpha moya could do nothing but watch. the jihadis say the shrines are idolatrous. crowds came out in protest but to no avail. the islamists have since destroyed more shrines. the director of the national museum in bamako has a plan to protect both islamic and pre- islamic objects if the islamists come south. >> if the pure islam comes to bamako all this is threatened. >> reporter: this is beautiful. an animist terracotta statue from the fourteenth century like this is priceless, both in its monetary value and its cultural meaning. >> the taliban destroyed the buddha in afghanistan, what happened in timbuktu is quite the same. heritage is important for people
because we all need to have the sense that we have an existence in the past. if someone wants to destroy this, it's clear if someone want to destroy this idea of the past, it's clear that this person wants to destroy the soul of malian people. culture is about the present as well as the past. women i met collecting food aid in bamako told me they fled the north because the jihadis-- many of them foreigners-- force them to wear a full face veil, like gulf arabs or afghans, not malians. >> ( translated ): we're a democratic, sovereign, secular republic. we never expected anyone to impose the sharia on us. we're in our own country so we should be free to behave as we wish. >> reporter: les sofas de la
republique-- warriors of the republic-- musicians defending malian culture and democracy. they're still free to express themselves in the capital. but this week the islamists controlling the north banned secular music as satanic-- another sign of their intent to attack everything malians hold dear. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: explosions and fighting across syria killed at least 100 people and mitt romney unveiled his energy plan, calling for energy independence by ramping up offshore drilling. a spokesman for president obama said energy policy should include all kinds of energy sources, not just oil. swimmer diana nyad's attempt to cross the florida straits was foiled by jellyfish. kwame holman tells us more about her brushes with the stinging creature. >> holman: how did diana nyad try to defend herself and what
went wrong? we have that story for science thursday on our science page. on the rundown, margaret reflects on the team tapped to advise mitt romney on foreign policy and what its membership suggests. also there, gwen ifill answered your election and political convention questions today in a live chat. and if you speak another all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. jeff? >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and...